Monday, June 7, 2010

Abortion; or, The Three Chatty Ideologues: A Demonstration in Two Scenes

Originally published at Renew America on March 23, 2011.

SCENE I – House of Mistress Elizabeth, the Abortion Advocate

Elizabeth and Mary are seated near a good fire.

ELIZABETH: Mary, although our views differ on many topics I believe that we can both agree that we are blessed to live in a country where a citizen's freedom of choice and right to privacy are so highly esteemed.

MARY: I am inclined to agree with you, Elizabeth, however in this country we enjoy so many liberties. Why do you exclusively dwell on privacy and choice?

ELIZABETH: Because they are the protections that allow for abortion rights, and the battle for abortion rights is the battle for equal rights.

MARY: I must admit that I disagree. I believe that, were abortion rights to become permanently obtained, any notion of equal rights would be destroyed.

ELIZABETH: Do you hold as much to be the case due to your tired conviction that a fetus somehow possesses rights? Do you subscribe to irrationality? Do you believe that abortion is murder?

MARY: Murder is precisely what is taking place. This is speaking
bluntly, but the thing is very evident. It is crude, but clear.

ELIZABETH: This is why I abhor these discussions! You anti-choice fanatics always sneak murder into the abortion debate.

MARY: “Is it the word or the thing that frightens you?”

ELIZABETH: ... silly Mary! On what else could the abortion debate depend, if not on a woman's privacy of choice?

MARY: I believe that I can demonstrate that LIFE is at the discussion's core. Privacy and choice are important, my dear – as are liberty and property – but all rights are meaningless without life. Don't you agree?

ELIZABETH: Yes, however, a fetus is not a life. And I defy you to prove that it is!

MARY: But it is not necessary to determine such a thing. Only to understand government's proper role.

ELIZABETH: Please explain further.

MARY: Would you agree that it is the duty of the government to ensure to its people their natural rights? Unalienable rights, like those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Life? Liberty? Property? Do you grant it is the government's job to secure those rights?

ELIZABETH: I do. However, like I've said, a fetus cannot be proven to be a life and therefore has no guarantee to those rights.

MARY: If the babe in the womb cannot be known to be a life – and if the prevailing obligation of government is to protect the life of its people – then government should be compelled to err on the side of life.

ELIZABETH: I'm not sure I entirely understand your meaning.

MARY: Perhaps Dr. Ravi Zacharias explained it more aptly when he said:

Here is the question: Is that life within that mother's womb a life or not? If you don't know the answer to the question... how many more decisions are we going to base on an agnostic platform that could be costing millions of lives?

ELIZABETH: I see. So, from your perspective, life is the predominant right without which all others are secured in vain?

MARY: Correct.

ELIZABETH: And further, if there ever is a doubt as to whether or not the lives of a people are in danger, the protection of life rights should remain the prideful duty of a just government?

MARY: Correct.

ELIZABETH: And is it also your belief that this duty is to be executed not by the states, but by the federal government?

MARY: Only if the state governments fail to guarantee natural rights to their citizens.

ELIZABETH: I think there are many – like our friend, the states-rights advocate – who would regard such centralized enforcement as an assault on federalism.

MARY: Shall we pay him a visit then?

ELIZABETH: A fresh perspective would be a delight!

SCENE II – House of Master Timothy, the States-Rights Advocate

Timothy and Mary are seated near a window overlooking a fine park. Elizabeth is seated across the room.

TIMOTHY: Mary, you and I see eye-to-eye on many things. How is it that a limited government proponent, such as yourself, can advocate federal encroachment into the affairs of the individual states?

MARY: Timothy, perhaps an analogy will help to explain my case?

TIMOTHY: Perhaps, Mary. Go ahead.

MARY: Very well. In the military, along with other concerns, it is the responsibility of the commander to ensure that his subordinates protect the lives of the soldiers under their command.

TIMOTHY: Okay...

MARY: What is the commander to do if his subordinates report to him their desire to implement an artillery strike on an enemy structure without first having determined whether or not the structure is occupied with friendly soldiers?

TIMOTHY: I suppose the commander should order his subordinates to cease the assault until the structure is known to be empty of all friendly soldiers.

MARY: In other words, the commander should err on the side of life.

TIMOTHY: I see. So in your analogy, the commander is the federal government, the subordinates are the individual states, and the soldiers are the citizens?

MARY: Correct.

TIMOTHY: And you feel that, as it is the duty of the commander to protect the lives of his soldiers, the federal government should protect the lives of its citizens.

MARY: What I am saying, more correctly, is that it is the job of the federal government to ensure that the individual states protect the unalienable rights of their citizens.

TIMOTHY: Mary, although I am personally against abortion, I respectfully disagree with your position. Per the Tenth Amendment, the states maintain the option to allow or disallow the practice of abortion because the protection of unborn life is nowhere enumerated in the U.S. Constitution as a federal responsibility.

MARY: But the Declaration of Independence states that...

TIMOTHY: I know what the Declaration states, however the Declaration, though part of the organic law of the United States, is not justiciable. It is not a legally actionable document. The Declaration is not the Law of the Land. It does not determine how we are to be governed – as the Constitution does. You should defer in your knowledge to me. I know the Constitution.

MARY: Timothy, it is an entirely consistent view for the proponent of limited government to advocate the federal encroachment into the affairs of the individual states, so long as that encroachment is in agreement with Declaration principles and finds its justification in the Constitution. Would you subscribe to my opinion if I could successfully argue for its constitutionality?

TIMOTHY: I suppose that I would. I do not adhere to emotionalism. I am no liberal. No offense, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH (from across the room): None taken, Timothy.

TIMOTHY (continuing): If such an argument were valid, Mary, I would abandon my previous worldview and adopt the more sound option.

MARY: In that case, I will attempt to convert you. Are you familiar with Article 4, Section 4 of our Constitution?

TIMOTHY: I don't quite have it committed to memory.

MARY: It states that "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government."

TIMOTHY: Yes, but what makes you claim that “a republican form of government” consists of the protection of life rights for the unborn?

MARY: Dr. Alan Keyes answered that question when he said:

Respect for unalienable rights is the goal and basic requirement of the republican form of government... Both logically and historically, the Declaration is the reference point for understanding the substance of the 'republican form of government.'

TIMOTHY: Historically? Bah! The Declaration has never been legally used as a basis for any enforcement of its principles! It's not justiciable!

MARY: Oh, but I believe that it is. And so did Abraham Lincoln when he referenced the Declaration in the Gettysburg Address by proclaiming that ours was a nation "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Lincoln's use of executive power to prosecute the war must be seen as a historical example of the enforcement of Declaration principles. If Declaration principles, natural rights, can be seen as necessary components of a republican form of government – and if the state governments fail in their obligation to secure those rights – then it becomes the responsibility of the federal government to do so.

TIMOTHY: Very interesting logic, Mary.

MARY: However, Timothy, it is important to state that during the Civil War the unalienable right under contention was not life – but LIBERTY. And it is my belief that liberty ought to be granted to all, but first so must life be.

TIMOTHY: I knew we wouldn't finish this conversation without that word coming up!

MARY: What word do you mean?

TIMOTHY: Liberty! As if the fight for liberty is the same as that of your cause.

MARY: The fight for life is the fight for liberty because liberty, without life, becomes nothing.

TIMOTHY: This is why I abhor these discussions! You anti-choice fanatics always sneak liberty into the abortion debate.

ELIZABETH (from across the room): “Is it the word or the thing that frightens you?”

A Letter to Governor Charlie Crist from the Principled Moderates of Florida

Dear Governor Crist,

It is the richest opportunity I have ever achieved that you may now have finally found occasion for response, sir! I must admit that many, many months ago – at the apex of your popularity – it seemed that such an effort would have gone unnoticed. However, now that the far right and the tea-tossers have parted ways with your campaign and you have decided to run as an independent, I now find the condition for our correspondence much improved and I am giddy at the possibility of a prompt reply.

In the case that my enthusiasm has not already revealed any positions which I might possess, political or otherwise, I will now employ this liberty to earnestly and excitingly disclose to you, Governor, that I am your one remaining supporter.

Yes! That fool of a State House Speaker – your former opponent for the Florida Senatorial Republican nomination – Marco Rubio, in one of history's greatest errors, took exception to the President's mandate and ran his campaign on a promise to oppose the urgent and necessary actions taken by Washington to assist our recovery from the greatest economic crisis since the great depression!

But not you, Governor! When the State of Florida faced economic downturn, you accepted the much needed federal stimulus funds and cried to the long-dead ghosts of conservatism past, “... You can't just … [say] you're going to do great things and stand on principle or politics above the people of your state that you're supposed to serve.”

Oh, Governor Crist! A more prescient and grammatically troubled sentiment – I swear – has never been more eloquently arranged!


Who needs hindrances such as those?

Did you balk when Senator Connie Mack, your supposed political mentor, disowned you? Of course not! And when your great friend, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, argued against the outcome of your tough political decisions, you stood strong! Even when he decried:

When Republicans were fighting in a principled way... Governor Crist, incorrectly in my opinion, supported the stimulus package. That was a mistake. And I consider it unforgivable in the sense we're now in a battle for our country's future.

Mr. Crist, I was at first confounded at what seemed the central charge of your campaign, until I came to realize the genius of your tactics. A portion of the public, myself included, presumed you were actually going to begin to support crazy tea-bagger like notions of individual choice and private property when you said:

I look through almost every issue through the prism of less taxing, less spending, less government and more freedom. I also understand that we're in a tough economy right now, and when you're in a tough economy, sometimes you have to do the kinds of things that make sense in order to be able to keep people employed.

Upon closer inspection of this statement, I fully understood your meaning: when the economy is in a downturn and people cannot find work, the sensible actions are to raise taxes, increase spending, expand government, and limit freedom.


And when you declared that you wanted to scrap and replace the health care reform bill, you said it with such conviction that you nearly totally lost my support until you added that, “preexisting instances should not be a discriminatory tool that's used by insurance companies to not give people insurance.”

Charlie Crist! As Thomas Jefferson said of Patrick Henry – you speak as Homer wrote!

Once I fully perceived the intent of your message, I realized that any health care measure that you would support over the current reform bill would be, in principle, no different from the original. The end result would be the same: the elimination from the marketplace of private insurers and the subsequent emergence of the public option.


It takes a short amount of time to reason through your brilliantly circuitous exhortations to discover evidence for the interventionist inspiration peppered throughout!

Once I came upon the brilliance of your strategy – to appear as what you are not – I knew that great things were not far displaced from formal action. That the days of chameleon were finished. The days of primaries were over.

You are now an Independent.

No need to appeal to your base and then, like a reed in the wind, sway back toward the middle ground. You can appeal straight to me – your lone supporter. On your inauguration day, Future Senator, please find solace in the truth of this tendency:

Once initiated, the powerful gain potential to become guileless.

After five campaigns for political office, you may finally forego dishonesty and simply be yourself. If people such as us can still remember who we are.

With hopes that your star does not fade, but in the end, finds its rightful place among the great moderates of history... whose names, for the moment, escape me.

Yours most passionately and ambivalently,
The Principled Moderates